by Lita Cosner
Timothy Keller, author of The Reason for God (see our review), recently authored a paper for the theistic evolutionary organization Biologos (see Evolutionary syncretism: a critique of Biologos) titled “Creation, Evolution, and Christian Laypeople” (read the entire paper here). In this paper, he wrestles with how to present science to Christian laypeople in such a way that evolution and the Bible seem compatible.
Keller frames the dilemma thus: There are a lot of Christians who see the positive side of science, and who benefit from scientific advances in the forms of medicines, technology, etc. But then they see that what science says about origins seems to conflict with what the Bible says, and they are torn between their faith and science. Of course, this ignores the distinction between scientific and historical questions; ‘origins’ is very firmly in the domain of the latter. And of course, evolution had nothing to do with the advances in real science, including medicine.
Keller’s compromise is apparent very early on in his paper; he argues that “there is no logical reason to preclude that God could have used evolution to predispose people to believe in God in general so that people would be able to consider true belief when they hear the Gospel preached” (p. 1). The argument from what God could have done is almost meaningless because God could do anything that doesn’t contradict His own nature (meaning that He cannot do evil or logically contradictory things). What matters is what God said He actually did, and His record of that in Genesis gives no hint of such evolutionary processes.
Keller makes the caveat that “[n]othing here should be seen as meeting the need for rigorous, scholarly arguments in answer to these questions” (p. 2). Indeed, very little in the paper could be described as rigorous, scholarly, or even arguments, but at least he is honest.